-Members of the Baltimore City Council were busy this week. Baltimore Fishbowl reports that Councilperson Shannon Sneed is the lead sponsor on a bill which would eliminate weed testing for some city jobs. There was other legislation proposed, too, including proposals to extend the deadline for adopting a Complete Streets manual, strengthen the city’s gun-offender registry law, and create a commission that would review the city’s charter at least once every ten years. City Councilperson Ryan Dorsey also noted on Twitter that Mayor Bernard “Jack” Young signed legislation that would ensure that city leaders be in the know about ethics laws and be up-to-date with financial disclosure documents.
-There was lots of drama involving vans and gas this week. First, a van full of diesel fuel caused city officials to evacuate buildings and shut down streets—with many officials assuming this was a bomb (it was the anniversary of September 11 and President Donald Trump was coming to town). Turns out, the van owner was stealing fuel and he was storing it in the van—just another Baltimorean trying to make some money however he can. Then! Hours later, another van carrying fuel was found in Baltimore County. Police said they were investigating whether the two incidents are connected.
–Maryland Matters reported that just one of the 14 politicians Maryland Democratic National Committee members voted in favor of allowing that party to hold a debate focused only on climate issues. The vote was held last month but the results were recently released. Larry Cohen was the only DNC member who voted in favor of the debate. Eight members voted against, and five didn’t cast votes at all. Maryland Democratic Party Chairwoman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings didn’t vote because she said she had a family emergency. State Sen. Cory McCray, who did vote against the climate debate by proxy, said climate isn’t as important of an issue for his constituents, instead pointing to things like justice reform and policing. However, climate issues hit Black communities the hardest first, as evidenced in this study we referenced last week. Climate change is already here—can we be sure our Democratic leaders are ready for it?
-Fern Shen of the Baltimore Brew got the runaround this week as she tried to get to the bottom of reports that a Black man’s body was found hanging at a park near Carver Vocational-Technical School. Even though social media was abuzz with reports of kids seeing the body, Baltimore Police detective Nicole Monroe said that school police were able to get to the scene early and cover the body. However, city schools police chief Akil Hamm said that his officers were not first to the scene and told her she needed to go back to BPD. There’s still lots we don’t know about the incident, including this report that the incident could be linked to another crime, and city officials’ game of pass the blame isn’t helping. “We say we want to talk about the trauma children experience every day in this city. Well, here it is,” WEAA’s Karsonya “Kaye” Wise Whitehead said.
-And the Gun Trace Task Force scandal continues. Last week, Baltimore police officer Carmine Vignola was charged by federal prosecutors for lying to a grand jury. Vignola, the feds say, lied to them about his role in the planting of a bb gun on a man that GTTF leader Wayne Jenkins intentionally ran over back in 2013. One of the other officers involved in planting the bb gun, Sgt. Keith Gladstone, was indicted earlier this year and plead guilty. His sentencing was scheduled for Friday but has been postponed, presumably related to these new charges (a third officer involved in this bb gun planting, remains unnamed and not yet charged). In related news, a federal judge ruled that a multimillion dollar lawsuit by Umar Burley and Brent Matthews, two men who were chased by GTTF’s Jenkins and had drugs planted on them and did years in jail for it, can continue forward. Lawyers for the Baltimore Police and officers involved had motioned for the case to be dismissed. In addition to Jenkins, the lawsuit names Gladstone as the officer who brought the drugs and planted them and former Deputy Commissioner Dean Palmere, implicated as a superior who as part of BPD, enabled police abuses of power to go on unchecked.
-On Thursday, about 100 or so people gathered in Harbor East to tell our terrible president Donald Trump to go fuck himself. That night, Trump’s motorcade arrived in Baltimore for a GOP Retreat held at the Marriott and Baltimore came out in a fairly big way to tell him, “nope,” complete with plenty of signs and outrageous costumes, a guillotine, and a giant rat balloon. Beat news editor Brandon Soderberg was there and one of his tweets summed it up pretty nicely: “Any sense of authority or even the novelty of the, you know Thee President being near Thee Ppl doesn’t exist; rightfully mad protesters, annoyed worried cops, and like nine maniacs howling about all Trump has done for ‘the blacks.’” The protests continued—all organized by a group called Baltimore Welcoming Committee which brought together a number of other local activist groups—all weekend with a LGBTQ+ dance party in front of the Marriott on Friday night and a march calling attention to the climate crisis organized by the local chapter of Extinction Rebellion Saturday afternoon.
-In 2020 local election news, Brandon Scott announced he was running for mayor, which we all pretty much knew was going to happen soon (Read the Beat’s report from Scott’s announcement here). It would seem that some other major players in the mayoral election—namely, Jack Young and Sheila Dixon—will announce they’re running soon. Additionally, the Afro reported that councilperson Shannon Sneed was running for city council president. And then councilperson Leon Pinkett formally announced he was running for council president. For a sense of where council members running stand, Dr. Lawrence Brown reupped a tweet from earlier this year breaking down how council members voted on a few key issues (hint: note who voted against $15 minimum wage and for mandatory-minimums for gun possession). In national election news, Joe Biden said some condescending racist nonsense about education and parenting and playing records for kids and then a couple days later told some sort of “The Little Rascals” meets “The Warrior” tale about this one time he fought a gang member named Corn Pop or something??? Who knows, man.